Wow! What an incredible day it was on Tuesday. After successfully winning the Sutton Borough competition and then triumphing in the Crystal Palace Finals at Kent CC, Avenue got the chance to represent Crystal Palace FC in the Premier League Schools National U11 Tournament. This was the 12th annual tournament and the first time Avenue had reached the national finals. The finals took place at Stamford Bridge, the home of Chelsea Football Club. The boys have been so excited since finding out they were going to the finals.
We all arrived at Selhurst Park the home of Crystal Palace FC at 6:45am to get a VIP players coach to the tournament. The boys were all ready to go and looked very smart wearing their own personalised Crystal Palace football shirts. The parents and supporters followed behind us in the supporter coach.
When we arrived at Stamford Bridge, we immediately walked through the tunnel and to our seats in the stand. The buzz was incredible! We had a quick tour around, a glance at our section in the official programme and even managed to play a few games of Fifa 17 on the Xbox pods! Mr Dann then had a manager’s briefing in the media room where Conte and the Chelsea players give their opinions to the press.
Once all the teams had arrived, every team waited in the tunnel. Next, the school and club were announced to the fans. Harvey our captain led out the team with the Crystal Palace flag and the fans cheering.
Then at 9:30am we got our own time slot to go into the home changing room and have photos with the Premier League Trophy! We had a long wait until our first match, but just before 10:30am the team walked out onto the pitch to play West Brom. Alex scored a the goal that gave us a 1 – 0 win. A great start!
Our next game was against against Southampton. Avenue took the lead with a well worked team goal that was finished off by Alex. Southampton were very quick on the counter attack and scored two goals to give them a 2 – 1 win.
The boys knew they had to win the next two group matches to have any chance of going through to the semi-finals because only the winners of the group would progress.
In the next game we played Leicester City. The team were now becoming a lot more confident and were passing the ball around nicely. An excellent 2 – 0 win against Leicester, with both goals scored by Jonathan, meant that we were on 6 points.
Our last group game was against West Ham, the group leaders on 9 points. Avenue need to win by at least 2 goals to go through to the semi-finals on goal difference. The boys put a lot of pressure on the opposition and it was rewarded with a goal from Alex who had only just been substituted into the game. With a few minutes left, another super sub, Josh stayed composed in front of goal and scored the second goal that made Avenue top the group and progress to the semi-finals.
In the semi-final, we had to play the winners of Group B – Chelsea. Being the home team the atmosphere was incredible. Lots of local school children were cheering for Chelsea, but we had a huge amount of support as well from our parents and the crowd. The U13 Crystal Palace girls were making loads of noise with different chants and songs for us. A favourite was, “Sentamu is on fire, your defence is terrified!” It certainly helped because Jonathan scored a screamer of a free kick from inside our own half. Chelsea managed to get a goal back and although both sides had more chances, it finished 1 – 1 and it had to go to penalties. Chelsea hit the post with one of their penalties and we managed to score all five. Avenue had done it! We were through to the final!For the final the team ran out from the tunnel and were focused on the game. Our opponents were Manchester City. It was an end to end game and both teams had chances to score. However the deadlock couldn’t be broken and the winners were to be decided on penalties. Avenue had to score the last penalty to be crowned champions because Luke in goal had already made a great save to deny one of the City players. The Manchester City goalkeeper pulled off a good save to take it to sudden death penalties. Unfortunately, we lost. The boys were upset, but later on when it all sank in and they stepped up to the podium to receive their runner-up medals and trophy they began to realise what an amazing feat they had just achieved. They were presented with the medals and trophy from the Premier League Executive Chairman, Richard Scudamore and Chelsea Ladies player Eniola Aluko.The boys shared their thoughts about the day…
Harvey (Captain) – “When I was leading everyone out of the tunnel, I felt like a professional player. It was an amazing experience!”
Bradley – “I was very excited to go to Stamford Bridge and it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Jonathan – “It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to play football in a place where legends have set foot.”
Charlie – “It was a great experience to play on a football field where amazing football players have played. There was great support from all the people in the crowd.”
Josh – “Making it to the finals was probably the biggest achievement of my life so far. The feeling of coming out of the tunnel was amazing!”
Oliver – “It was one of the best days of my life! To play at the home of the Premier League Champions and on the beautiful pitch.”
Alex – “It was an amazing achievement to get into the final. Unfortunately we lost, but all of the boys put in 100% and tried to win!”Over 1400 schools across England and Wales entered the competition and Avenue were runners-up! Match of the Day – Kick About were filming on the day and it will be showed on the BBC at 7:45am – 3rd June. The whole school is so proud of the team. I would like to thank all the parents who came to support on the day, Mr Green for all his help and to congratulate the boys again. They couldn’t have represented Crystal Palace FC and Avenue any better. I am so proud of them all! Well done boys, fantastic memories were made! Mr Dann 🙂
Click on the link below for a review of the day!